Fauci warns there's no 'strong' evidence anti-malaria drug works on coronavirus

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOvernight Health Care: Protests risk spread of coronavirus | Health groups: Police brutality is a public health issue, too | Fauci says meetings with Trump have decreased Trump official leading COVID-19 testing to return to regular duties The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Former Rep. Delaney says Trump is spewing venom when he should be leading; Protests roil the nation as fears of new virus outbreaks grow MORE, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned Friday that there isn't any "strong" evidence that an anti-malaria drug has proven effective in the coronavirus fight.

“We’ve got to be careful that we don’t make that majestic leap to assume that this is a knockout drug. We still need to do the kinds of studies that definitely prove whether any intervention is truly safe and effective," Fauci, who is also a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said during an interview on "Fox & Friends."

Fauci's comments came in response to a question about a recent poll of more than 6,700 doctors in 30 countries, with 37 percent of physicians saying they “felt” that the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine was the most effective for treating COVID-19 as cases.

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“We don’t operate on how you feel, we operate on what evidence and data is,” Fauci said, adding that it was "not a very robust study" or "overwhelmingly strong."

“But when you don’t have that information, it’s understandable why people will want to take at any slightest hint that it’s effective, and I have no problem with that," he added.

Hydroxychloroquine is primarily used to treat lupus and arthritis.

"Obviously this is a good drug for the many diseases you mentioned. What we don’t want to happen is individuals who truly need the drug with a proven indication don’t have it available," Fauci said.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpSessions accepts 'Fox News Sunday' invitation to debate, Tuberville declines Priest among those police cleared from St. John's Church patio for Trump visit Trump criticizes CNN on split-screen audio of Rose Garden address, protesters clashing with police MORE previously touted hydroxychloroquine, combined with azithromycin, as a potential game changer.

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Doctors in China reported this week that hydroxychloroquine "helped to speed the recovery of a small number of patients who were mildly ill from the coronavirus," The New York Times reported.

“It’s going to send a ripple of excitement out through the treating community,” infectious disease expert William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University told the Times.

Larger clinical trials are already underway in the U.S., with some preliminary results expected in the coming days.

Updated at 12:10 p.m.